Claude Giroux has been captain of the Flyers longer than anyone in team history, including Hall of Famer Bob Clarke, and there’s a built-in two-way allegiance with the team.
Yet as antithetical as it might sound, no player is impervious to change, including Clarke, who maybe was pushed to leave both his playing career and his role as general manager a little earlier than wanted.
Which brings us to Giroux’s current plight with Philadelphia as the team sinks to near the bottom of the NHL standings.
With elimination from playoff contention all but a foregone conclusion, Giroux has been put in the awkward position of being in the very center of trade rumors. His eight-year contract runs out in July, making him an unrestricted free agent, and that means contending teams will be seeking his services at the NHL trade deadline on or before March 21.
Giroux, 34, would be a very attractive “rental” addition to a Stanley Cup-contending team such as the Colorado Avalanche. Although the Flyers would hate to part ways with one of the most popular and accomplished players in team history, they would be crazy not to explore the chance to add assets for a player who could walk away a few months after the trade deadline.
After Wednesday’s practice at the Flyers Training Center, Giroux addressed the possibility of leaving the only team he’s ever played for.
Giroux said he has not yet spoken to general manager Chuck Fletcher about what the future might hold.
“Obviously we have a lot of things to talk about, I’m sure we will at some point,’’ Giroux said. “What’s best for the Flyers organization and what’s best for me and we’ll just go from there.’’
The Ontario, Canada native appreciates all which has transpired since he was made a first-round draft pick back in 2006.
“The organization here has been great for me,’’ Giroux said. “The last 14 years they’ve treated me the right way. I had a chance to play with a lot of great players, had great coaches. I feel like it’s been an honor to have been a Flyer this long.’’
It sounds as if Giroux’s loyalty has been tested in this very difficult season. But he sort of nixed that notion.
“Right now I’m committed to this team. . .start winning some hockey games, keep working as a team here,’’ he said. “When you put the Flyers jersey on, you have to wear it with pride. You just got to go out there and do the job. Do everything you can to get a win every night.’’
Ivan Provorov has been Giroux’s teammate for more than 400 games. He knows the kind of effort Giroux gives on a nightly basis.
“He’s a guy who hates losing,’’ Provorov said. “That’s our mentality. Hopefully everyone on the team is going to feel that. ‘G’ is an easy guy to play with. When you hate losing and you see a guy who hates losing as much as you do, it’s easy to be on the same page.’’
The trade rumor static is just part of the business.
“It’s impossible not to hear it,’’ Provorov said. “But it shouldn’t affect the way you play. Maybe the guys who are involved in the trade rumors, maybe a little bit; but at the end of the day, I think everyone going into the game should be able to clear their mind, just focus on the game.’’
Interim head coach Mike Yeo said he consults with Giroux on a regular basis. It’s helpful for both men.
“First of all, it would be foolish not to listen to a guy like G with his experience,’’ Yeo said. “He’s got a real good pulse on the team. That (keeping the team in the right frame) is a big challenge.’’
The Flyers begin an eight-game homestand on Thursday night. Martin Jones will start in goal when the Washington Capitals visit the Wells Fargo Center. . .Gerry Mayhew, who suffered a significant facial cut after a crash into the boards on Saturday at Detroit, will return to action after missing Tuesday night’s game at Pittsburgh. . .Yeo said Kevin Hayes (adductor) is getting “closer.’’ “He’s certainly doing a lot better than we thought,’’ Yeo said. The coach said there is no progress to report regarding Derick Brassard or Ryan Ellis.